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Why linen is having its moment

Women are shown wearing linen outfits
Seasalt Cornwall used linen in its Summer 2022 collection, which was inspired by the watery blues of Cornwall's Fal River.

LINEN HAS A LONG HISTORY

Linen is one of the oldest fabrics known to man. 

The ancient cloth, which is made from the fibres of the flax plant, has a history that stretches back 30,000 years to ancient civilizations. In ancient Egypt, it symbolized light and purity, and was used to wrap mummies. It's even mentioned in the bible as a fabric worn by angels!

Linen has also been worn by the living for many thousands of years. Its heat-regulating qualities have made it a great choice for equatorial climes in Africa and Asia -- and more recently, in the Great Lakes region in the middle of summer. 

And linen is the most durable of all fabrics. It lasts longer and wears better than other natural fabrics, including cotton.

LINEN IS HAVING ITS MOMENT

After playing a supporting role to cotton's leading lady since about the 1970s, linen is now having its moment in the spotlight. It was everywhere on the high-fashion runways in 2021, with storied names like Dior, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton all taking part in the textile trend.

And if you walk in the front door of Resonance right now, you'll see linen to the left of you, and linen to the right.

Sandwich, Seasalt Cornwall, Part Two, Indi & Cold, Saint JamesNileZilchEcoAlf, Nic + Zoe and Michael Stars. They're all doing it! It seems linen has been cast as the romantic lead in many of the everyday outfits most of us wear to work and play.

 

Three women are shown wearing linen clothing

 Part Two's classic dresses, pants and T-shirts looked gorgeous in linen this season, too.

BUT WHY?

Since about the 1970s, people have depended mainly on cotton in their everyday wardrobes, turning to linen as a speciality fabric for an occasional skirt or jacket. But since about 2020, as fashion designers and consumers have become more attuned to the environmental impact of textiles, linen has been providing a greener alternative.

Linen is considered the strongest of all fabrics, including cotton. That durability means linen clothing pieces last longer, which gives it sustainability points. Bonus: It's resistant to moths. 

Flax can grow in poor soil without fertilizers, so the production of linen is more environmentally friendly than it is for other fibres. Linen can fully biodegrade in normal conditions.

Organic linen is even less harmful for the environment, since organic flax farmers do not use pesticides in their production methods, thereby protecting biodiversity. Linen labelled as organic is also dyed with organic dyes, which means that it biodegrades more completely.

So organic linen is an incredible choice if you're building a mindful wardrobe. And that's probably what's behind the linen trend we're seeing. The transformation of the fashion industry has been speeding up since 2020. Sustainable fashions are more readily available at more accessible prices. Yay!

CLOTHES FOLLOW CLIMATE

Another reason fashion designers are increasingly turning to linen these days could be that it feels cool to the touch. As temperatures rise and summers become more extreme in the northern hemisphere, people need clothing that  helps them adapt to their changing environments.

It's not just tradition that people wear linen in hot places. According to Wikipedia, linen fibres have high conductivity -- which is the same scientific principle that makes metal feel cool to the touch. There is actually a verifiable reason for linen's reputation as warm-weather choice. Not only is linen conductive, it's also permeable by air, which means it has more ventilating qualities. In other words, if there's a breeze, you'll feel it.

Increasingly, though, as our wardrobes have developed a seasonless core, we're wearing our linen pieces year round. Feel free to layer linen over merino wool during fall and winter to get even more wear out of your favourite flax fashions. 

LINEN IS A LIFESTYLE

We love that linen pieces last. The fabric becomes softer with wear, so favourite pieces take on a loved-up lustre that makes us want to keep wearing them over and over. 

Yes, it's true that linen wrinkles. We've gotten used to it! But we do have a few tips to help you keep your linen looking lovely. 

One trick we love is a feature of Sandwich's intelligent designs. This European brand smartly uses linen in the front of its jackets and tops, and jersey in the back. This eliminates wrinkles in an area where creases tend to congregate.

 

Three women are shown wearing linen clothing

The interesting colours in Sandwich's linen-centric collection have made it stand out this season. (Pink linen! Swoon.) We love how this brand uses strategically placed jersey to add stretch and comfort to linen garments.

CARE TIPS FOR LINEN LOVERS

  • remove from the washer as soon as the wash cycle is done
  • flatten and smooth wrinkles with your hands before air drying
  • iron while your linen is still damp, or spray with a fine mist of water
  • if you use spray starch, turn the garment inside out before spraying

To see all the linen items we have in store right now, click the box below for search results on the term "linen."

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